"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 30 June 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Lump Sums


[my roomate's cat, 
pc moved out a few weeks back]

Wretched huddled figures

approach with hands

outstretched, rivulets of

pain-tears streaking their dusty

faces. Nearly unbearable to

behold, these are our newest and

most downtrodden wards: church

groups, universities, tobacco

farmers, police departments,

baseball franchises, and

national governments. At least

the colorful hobo on the corner

can pretend the money isn't for



This modern world is eager to

tell a hard-luck story for a

small donation, and so far most

of us haven't learned to tell

the difference between the truly

needy and those who are simply

in the habit of asking for help.

A cloud in the shape of Sally

Struthers' face hovers over baby

democracies from Russia to

Indonesia, soliciting IMF

bailouts for any block of land

with a flag and nuclear

ambitions. Exquisitely skinny

Appalachian and Argentinian

urchins waive their regular

appearance fees so that Father

Superior might get his teeth

recapped and the World Bank can

finally gild its ceiling. Time

was a church could keep its

organ tuned by selling

macramé. With the rising

costs of gravedigging, Web

sites, and holy water, it takes

a professional "development

officer." According to Wall

Street success Alan Greenberg -

who gave US$1,000,000 seed money

so that poor men, too, might die

of Viagra heart attacks -

"helping others is a matter of

quality of life." At 10 cents a

pop, hard-candy suckers come a

lot cheaper than potency pills,

but ask, and ye might receive.


[you may know about the close relatio
nship i had with him]

How swell are the coffers of

Indiana University's Center for

the Advancement of Philanthropy?

The institution is sorely

mismonikered, as the art of

giving isn't being cultivated

inside, but the sport of

begging. Every graduation day,

another flock of collegiate acid

casualties sits down with career

counselors who dispense the

secret of success: "When

applying for a job, part your

hair to reflect back a mirror

image of the person doing the

hiring." For this, a graduate

owes his alma mater far more

than any student-loan debt, and

should be required to support

varsity sports in perpetuity.


Thanks to President Clinton,

society's undesirables - the

cash-poor - are channeled either

into prisons or telemarketing

jobs down at police

headquarters. Intrusive as

telecom terror tactics can be,

they are actually an improvement

over the traditional shakedowns

that bind cops to their clients.

When Officer McGruff of the

Patrolman's Benevolent

Association calls and asks: "Do

you agree that drunk driving is

a problem?" you can either speak

your mind ("not since I sold my

car, pig") - or hope that your

check is generous enough to keep

you connected to the 911



[daily i forget that he's gone - the
house is still without his presence]

The most profitable forms of

harvest - gambling and

telemarketing - are illegal for

individuals; only the

cornerstones of society can

feast on this bread line.

Unfortunately, four pennies out

of every nickel a nonprofit

receives is swiftly allocated

back to working our sentimental

impulses. PBS, on a perpetual

pledge drive just to pay the

Three Tenors, panders

desperately by running

documentaries on the life of

Ronald Reagan, a president even

more damaging to public

television than cross-dressing

Englishmen. Looking back, it's

hard to remember a time when a

Girl Scout was ever more than a

brand of cookie.


In this contrived atmosphere of

crisis, opportunity abounds for

public defenders from the

private sector, whether selling

scripts to fend off solicitors

or just tapping into random

anti-anything resentment -

à la direct-mail pauper

prince Ralph Nader, a

free-ranging public advocate in

search of a constituency. Here

and there, courts are awarding

real cash prizes to parties

offended by phone fundraisers,

making every incoming line

installed in a home a ticket in

the telemarketing lottery.

Enterprising households should

start hiring operators to work

the dinner shift.


[like an ex-boyfriend, i won't
replace him for awhile just to
make sure he's what i missed,
not just the company and bed warming qualities]

In the end, viewers like us are

giving more, but caring less.

Homelessness is illegal in every

second-rate city with a tourist

industry, and the seat America

offers its most desperate

fellows is not on public

transportation, but in the

electric chair. Social welfare

is down 18 percent since 1997,

and as beneficiaries are erased

from the rolls, mayors send young

mothers to pick up litter

outside tax-funded ballparks.

Wrestling fan Ted Turner,

handing over a billion dollars

in Time Warner stock to United

Nations causes, remarked that

"the joy of giving is

contagious." We're still giving

each other crabs, scabies, and

HIV - but we'd probably ask for

them back, if we could.

courtesy of DJ Abraham Lincoln